This week on Press Pass, Hooked On Wrestling and other media outlets were joined by not one… but TWO champions; the X-Division Champion Rohit Raju, and the IMPACT Knockouts Champion Deonna Purrazzo.
Both had a lot to say on development, Bound For Glory and what their championships mean to them.
(To Purrazzo) Coming into IMPACT this year you were in a very different position to where you are now. What has it been like being elevated in IMPACT Wrestling?
Purrazzo: There’s equal happiness, and equal pressure. I feel a lot of pressure every week but especially in the lead up to Slammiversary! And now Bound For Glory because I have a target on my back. I’ve been vocal about how I am the greatest technical female wrestler in the world and how I just need a stage to prove it; that does put a target on my back. IMPACT Wrestling afforded me this opportunity very quickly and gave me the chance against former champion Jordynne Grace. To show myself to the world on a new stage means the world to me, but also means I need to be on my game constantly, training, improving and watching my image. I put a lot of pressure on myself by performing to the best of my ability.
What separates each of you from your Bound For Glory opponents?
Purrazzo: My mindset is what differs me from Kylie Rae. I’ve had a clear path and clear gameplay of everything I’ve wanted to achieve till this point in IMPACT, and I’ve succeeded in it all. I wanted to be the Champion, I accomplished that. I beat Jordynne Grace in the first ever IMPACT Knockout Iron Man match. Bound For Glory is just another step to proving everything that I say that I am. We’ve seen different sides to Kylie Rae but not me. I got her to deviate from her game plan and her moral compass.
I’m here to be the best, I’ll do what I have to do and we’ll see how Kylie copes with that.
Raju: For me, it’s being an underdog. Everybody else in the scramble at Bound For Glory came into IMPACT with hype, with fanfare and all this glorious stuff. They were pushed to the top instantly. Me? I came in at the bottom, I was always there. Every time I was on TV, people would be like ‘oh, this guy’s gonna lose’. I’ve always been the underdog, and that doesn’t change on the 24th. I plot, I scheme, but I will keep this title. I’m finally sitting at the big people table, and the food tastes that much better, I’m at the Championship banquet and I won’t go back to eating the scraps, I won’t settle for anything less.
(To Purrazzo) You’ve reached the top of the Knockouts division already. Do you have any plans of ever joining the X-Division, like some other Knockouts have before?
Purrazzo: I think it’s incredible that IMPACT doesn’t limit what our women’s division can do; for Jordynne to be in this 6-person scramble at Bound For Glory is groundbreaking. It’s such an opportunity, and if she comes out the champion, I’ll be so happy. But I’m also happy that there’s one less woman in my division. For the foreseeable future, I plan on staying in just the Knockouts division. Intergender wrestling isn’t something I’ve ventured into thus far in my career, and I can’t say if I think it’s for me but more power to women who do want to be part of that.
(To Purrazzo) You’ve beaten Jordynne Grace, X-Division Champion Rohit Raju has not. What advice would you give Rohit going into Bound For Glory against Grace?
Purazzo: You should take my advice, I’ve beaten her twice! Rohit should work on his cardio, Jordynne is strong and powerful but she has weak points. I used the arm, then she can’t pick me up, she can’t use her power. I was able to outlast her by going the distance. Cardio, pinpoint a body part and exploit it, it’ll change her game. Especially in a 6-person circumstance, take out one of the strongest people and it’ll help everyone.
Raju: You’re Knockouts Champion, I trust you know what you’re doing.
(To Raju) Who do you think poses the biggest threat to your Championship at Bound For Glory?
Raju: TJP. Everyone in that match is fantastic and brings something of their own, but TJP is on a whole different level than the others. He’s the biggest threat; he’s been around the longest, has the most experience, the most knowledgeable. Where he comes across aloof or goofy sometimes it’s easy to take him lightly, but he is a huge threat in the ring.
Chris Bey is out for revenge after I out-finessed him, but his mind won’t be in the right spot because of his anger. Jordynne is a fish out of water, people might not be so quick to just welcome her into the division. Trey does pose a big threat himself, but not as big as TJP. But I’ll be keeping an eye on all of them; they are all threats to me.
(To Raju) You mentioned how you came into IMPACT at the bottom and how you just needed a chance. Your chance came when the roster was stacked with a lot of other brilliant talent. What do you attribute your Championship success to in this context?
Raju: Hard work & perseverance. Everything IMPACT through my way, I took advantage of it and made it work. I’ve been frustrated with my position plenty, sitting there wondering ‘is it gonna happen?’ finally, I got my break. I was ready and waiting to run with it. There is some pressure; it’s the X-Division which is a very elevated and technical stage for a wrestler and I think I’ve kept up with that with my matches against TJP, Chris Bey, etc. But my favourite thing is being a character. I think I uniquely bring this to the division, something different. I was ready and eager for this. I do not want to let go of this opportunity.
(To Purrazzo) What are your thoughts on the return of Tenille Dashwood?
Purrazzo: Tenille interrupted my black tie affair, so she isn’t in my good books already. To have Tenille in our women’s division is incredible. We have a lot of diversity in our division, we continue to ‘up’ our game and in my opinion have one of the strongest women’s divisions in the world right now. Tenille’sarrival is to our benefit, and as long as she doesn’t come for my title, I don’t have that big a problem with her.
(To Raju) Do you have any plans to go for any other Gold in IMPACT at the minute, or are you fully content with being X-Division Champion?
Raju: My focus is absolutely on my X-Division Championship and retaining it coming out of Bound For Glory. Who doesn’t want to be on top of the mountain, though? Right now we have Eric Young and Rich Swann fighting over that, out of those two I’d rather take Swann on, because EY is a maniac. I don’t want to tangle with him. I’d like to take Swann on. But that’s getting ahead of myself, no plans for now. We’ll see what happens.
(To Purrazzo) In April, you were left without any work. Just two months later, you were Knockouts Champion. What were you thinking & feeling in those two months?
Purrazzo: I wasn’t shy about what I thought I could do as a performer & professional wrestler. I wanted someone to take the chance, and just let me be me, so to come into IMPACT and be given everything I wanted right from the start was incredible. There was a lot of pressure to live up to the hype I’d given myself, so in those months from April to Slammiversary! It was all about improving and reflecting. How do I evolve from who I was on TV before I was released, to the person I knew I was going to be on IMPACT, to the Champion. There are constant layers and development to myself both personally and professionally in those months. I had to raise the bar to give back all the appreciation I felt to IMPACTt and the fans.
(To Raju) Of all your IMPACT opponents, who do you want to inflict the most damage on?
Raju: I hold no ill-will, and have no hatred towards my opponents. I already outsmarted Bey and he had that coming. It’s not so much I want to HURT any of them, as much as just rub it in their faces; I have the belt and I can outsmart you. Their opportunities after this? They’re done.
Again, it isn’t so much about pain, but more about them getting their comeuppance for their constant greed and hogging of the spotlight. They deserve to lose, I deserve to shine, and that’s what’s going to happen at Bound For Glory.
Do either of you think a time will come where the Knockouts division will become completely intergender, as the mens has?
Raju: I’m not sure. I think it’s a great option, and it’s 2020 so maybe I’ll come out for the Knockouts Championship, who knows. Bu-
Raju: Not with you Deonna, I respect you too much. Don’ worry!
Purrazzo: So… you’re saying I’m going to lose at Bound For Glory?
Raju: No, no. I know you’ll be victorious at BFG, and so will I, focusing on my X-Division Championship… but you know, in time… maybe.
The way things are progressing in wrestling, I think a completely intergender roster could take some time. Some people are still on the fence about intergender wrestling as a whole; it takes time. All I’ll definitely say is this; I think anything works in professional wrestling when done correctly.
Purrazzo: I am very happy to see movement in this regard happening in IMPACT, and I don’t think the continuance of that will be much of an issue.
What do you think makes you stand out as top performers?
Raju: I’m so glad IMPACT has finally put a microphone in my hand. I’m a huge fan of old school, larger than life wrestlers like ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage; he could do it in the ring, outside the ring; he could talk people into a building. I love going out there with a microphone and just stabbing people with words; getting under their skin. I’m obnoxious and annoying, and I love that I can do that by running my mouth. The promo is my favourite thing, and it’s something I feel I excel at. I’m thankful to have the opportunity to do that. When I walk through that curtain, I become larger than life.
Purrazzo: I think my wrestling is what has always made me stand out. I’m not the greatest promo in the world, or the fastest, strongest or the tallest. I am the best female technical wrestler in the world. Night after night, I get to show that in the ring. I always have a plan to pinpoint my opponent’s arm and to break it. That consistency in my matches I think elevates me. The storytelling and the wrestling is what I think makes me stand out the most.
Next week will see the FINAL Press Pass ahead of Bound For Glory and will feature former IMPACT World Champions Eddie Edwards & Sami Callihan
Bound For Glory on October 24th is available to purchase now via FITE.TV or PremierSports in the UK. Watch IMPACT Wrestling every Wednesday night at 10PM UK Time on FreeSports
Follow Hooked On Wrestling on Twitter @HO_Wrestling. Follow me on Twitter @danenielsenHOW